[Fsfe-ie] Software patents 'threaten Linux'

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Sat Jan 24 17:49:30 CET 2004

adam beecher wrote:
> Open source advocate Bruce Perens tells BBC technology correspondent Clark
> Boyd why the real threat to Linux and the open source movement is not from
> the SCO lawsuits, but from software patents.
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3422853.stm

I really don't think he did a very good job :-(  Since some of us may 
well find ourselves in a position to speak to the media on these issues 
  I think it is helpful to think about how we can best present our 
arguments, and part of this should be to critique the efforts of others.

Bruce opened his argument against software patents with:

 > Software patents that are being accepted are not necessarily
 > inventions, their definitions are overbroad.


I think it is essential in any debate to state your case clearly and 
memorably at the outset.  This sentence completely understates the 
issue.  Something like:

"If permitted in the EU, software patents could slow down or even halt 
today's rapid pace of innovation in software."

...might have been a better start.  Having caught their attention with 
this bold statement, he could then justify it in a top-down manner, 
often with the help of the interviewer since their follow-on questions 
will be suggested by the opening claim.  Generally top-down arguments 
are much more effective when explaining issues to those with short 
attention spans (eg. the general public).

Bruce does make some good points, such as the prospect of it being 
illegal to innovate without the permission of large software companies, 
but I fear that this claim is made too late in the interview.


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